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Big John's Spicy Beef and Pepper Sauce

Okay, so it's not exactly Big John's, but it is my version.  John is a good friend who often joins the family on our now annual fall trek to North Carolina's outer banks.  At least once while we're there John will head into the kitchen and create this wonderful sauce that's bursting with the flavor of sweet bell peppers and is oh, so spicy!  Like many impromptu cooks, Big John never writes anything down, so when I had a hankering for some of his sauce I had to come up with my own...turned out pretty good, too!  John serves his sauce with spaghetti while I like to use penne or ziti, but it really doesn't matter because this is all about the meat, peppers and the spice :)

1 pound   lean ground beef
1 tablespoon   cooking oil
1 medium   green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium   red bell pepper, chopped
1 large   onion, chopped
3 cloves   garlic, minced
2-15 ounce cans   tomato sauce
1 tablespoon   good quality chili powder
1 teaspoon   dried thyme
1 teaspoon   dried oregano
1 tablespoon   crushed red chile flakes
½ teaspoon   black pepper
¼ teaspoon   cayenne
Salt to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes and then add the ground beef.  Don't overcrowd the skillet or the heat will drop too quickly and the meat won't brown properly.  Work in two batches if necessary.  Brown the beef well and remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the bell peppers and onions.  Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, the peppers and the seasonings and sauté for an additional minute.

Add the tomato sauce and the ground beef to the skillet and bring to a simmer.  Let the sauce simmer very gently for about 30 minutes then adjust the seasonings if needed and serve.

Note:  Simmering longer will allow the sauce to reduce and thicken.  If you like it thinner just add a small amount of near the end of the cooking time.  It's up to you :)


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